One Boy

Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I would imagine books with holes in them are tricky in homes where small children live and rule the kingdom. Even I can’t resist grabbing the page to poke right through it. The design of this book just begged me to pick it up and read it. And carry it to the checkout counter. And ultimately holler about it to anyone who will listen.

See? I can’t even start talking about this book without getting ahead of myself.


Concept books seem simple, yet when done well, they are deceptively complex. Laura Vaccaro Seeger is the ultimate champion of the concept book, and has a Caldecott Medal to prove it. I was about to say that concept books are books that illustrate a specific concept. Well, duh. That’s the world’s most terribly written sentence. Ever. Didn’t I learn not to define a word by using that same word?! I love how Ishta Mercurio describes the concept book on her blog. She clears up the misconception that a concept book has no plot. Sure, there are non-fiction concept books such as simple counting books that have no narrative story, but the really strong ones weave a story throughout.

One Boy is a wordplay puzzle masquerading as a counting book, and still includes a surprising twist at the end of a well paced plot. Intrigued? Good.


Layout in graphic design terms refers to the arrangement and style of elements on a page. I could easily look at the saturated colors, and how Laura Vaccaro Seeger boldly uses them in One Boy. Or the simple and strong use of typography, punctuating each succinct page. But I think the general idea of layout is a good one here, because it so successfully solves all the design challenges of this book. This is such a solid example of design both communicating and furthering the story. Without the die cut layout, revealing words within words AND a swiftly moving story would have been much more difficult.

One Boy asks you to imagine, explore, predict, and wonder. And play. And think. And do it all over again. And that is a lot of beauty in a book with 48 pages and 54 words.

{Very cool breakdown of Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s process for creating a concept book here. For insomniacs and anyone who relates to my obsession and curiosity.}